Despite delay, Telkom's Maseko hails movement on release of spectrum

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Sipho Maseko. Photo: Cornel van Heerden
Sipho Maseko. Photo: Cornel van Heerden
  • Icasa said spectrum would be auctioned by no later than 31 March 2021, a three-month delay. 
  • The delay is due to the release of Covid-19 emergency spectrum and outstanding matters relating to the viability of the Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN). 
  • Nonetheless, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said Telkom looked forward to seeing innovation in auction design by the new council.

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko has praised the recently released invitation to apply for the Wireless Open Access Network and the International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum as a much-needed shot in the arm for the sector and the South African economy.

On Thursday, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa confirmed that the invitations to apply (ITAs) for high demand spectrum were due to be published by no later than 30 September 2020. The auction of the high-demand spectrum, originally scheduled for December this year, will now be completed no later than 31 March 2021.

Icasa said the delay in the process came due to the authority prioritising the release of the Covid-19 emergency spectrum and outstanding matters related to the viability of the WOAN.

Icasa invited submissions on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the market and which the Icasa council would consider when finalising the ITAs.

Among other things, the authority had to suspend the payment of dividends as a way of conserving cash to finance the purchase of high-demand spectrum.

Maseko said Telkom looked forward to seeing innovation in auction design by the new council, as South Africa continues to tackle the lack of effective competition in the sector.

"We hope the new council will also consider the impact of current spectrum trading deals in the design of the auction and use the opportunity presented by the ITA to deliver effective competition," said Maseko.

Icasa chair Keabetswe Modimoeng said the licensing process required that the authority move with caution to ensure full compliance with all requirements.

"Icasa has also completed a process to determine the fair economic value of the five spectrum bands that will be made available for auction and spectrum that will be made available to the WOAN taking into consideration the current state of competition in the South African market," said Modimoeng.

Icasa said due to the time lost as a result of the delay in the issuing of the ITAs, the auction of the high demand spectrum, which was originally meant to take place in December of 2020, would be subject to a three-month delay.

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